Mary Anthony was born in Kentucky and began her career with the German dance pioneer Hanya Holm, joining Holm’s company and becoming her assistant in the 1940s. She was a founding member of the New Dance Group and performed in Broadway shows such as Touch and Go
, which she later staged in London. She founded her own company in 1956 and brought them to Jacob’s Pillow in 1957 to present her signature Threnody
. Around the same time, she was a participant in several of the Sacred Dance Guild’s annual residencies at the Pillow. In 2001, she returned after an absence of many years to perform in From the Horse’s Mouth
in the Doris Duke Theatre, announcing proudly onstage that she was 85 years old. Relentlessly and refreshingly honest, she responded to an interviewer’s request to contrast her Pillow experiences in different eras by saying that she preferred the simpler atmosphere of the 1950s. She last visited the Pillow in 2004 when a documentary on her career was screened at Blake’s Barn. Her many awards included a Bessie for lifetime achievement, and she continued to teach at her studio home in New York City’s East Village until her death on May 31, 2014, at 97.